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Sunday, March 26, 2006


Darryl Littlejohn in court

Oddly enough, a reader posted that the Voice was running an article which linked the connections between the bar owning Dorrian family and Guiliani's staff and law firm.
Briefly, former bouncer Darryl Littlejohn has been charged in the rape-murder of graduate student Imette St. Guillen. But the quesition remains about what his employers knew and did in the immidate aftermath of her appearance and how that links to former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Flunking a Bar Exam

After the killing of Imette St. Guillen, scrutiny for the Falls dynasty
by Sarah Ferguson

Now Dorrian's whole block was lined with TV news trucks, come to see the dozen protesters demanding the bar answer to charges of misleading police and hiring Darryl Littlejohn, a seven-time violent felon who is now the prime suspect in the rape and murder of the 24-year-old St. Guillen. It's illegal for bars to employ felons.


"I can't say anything about anything," Michael responded with an exasperated shrug, his face flushed, when asked about the public crucifixion of his family's bar dynasty.

State Liquor Authority records, though, have plenty to say. The files for the Falls and other bars and restaurants owned by members of the Dorrian family reveal that since 1996, the SLA has fined the family's enterprises a total of $29,500, for 19 offenses.

Nine of the incidents took place at Dorrian's Red Hand, the Upper East Side drinking mill made famous by the so-called "preppy murder" in Central Park. As many have noted, that 1986 killing bears an eerie similarity to the police's primary theory about St. Guillen's; it involves yet another beautiful young woman—Jennifer Levin—who was strangled by a man she'd met at a Dorrian-owned bar.


SLA records indicate a continued slew of offenses, some standard for a bar, others more likely to halt a raised glass. The Red Hand has been popped numerous times for noise and disorderly premises—no big surprise for a saloon—but in 1998 was also cited for a violation known as "improper brand label." An SLA spokesperson explained that the bar had substituted one brand for another. The bar was cited for operating outside of licensed business hours in 2000 and 2003. And in 1997, it paid a fine of $10,000 for filing false tax returns.

Rebar and Suite 16, two former Chelsea nightclubs that Michael and brother John Dorrian operated at 127 Eighth Avenue under the corporate name Mac Daddy Inc., were together cited 10 times for violations that included "refilling/contaminated bottles" and selling to a minor. Rebar was cited for four assaults or altercations there between January 1998 and November 1999.

The family's trendy Park Avenue eatery Barna came out clean, as did Il Posto Accanto, the wine bar Michael recently sold in the East Village.

The Falls, which Michael opened with Daniel and chef John Kekalos in 2004, was cited on January 14, 2006, for selling booze to a minor. It has until March 29 to answer this charge. Meanwhile, outrage over management's conduct in the investigation intensified last week with the revelation that a second bouncer working at the club had a violent record. That bouncer, now a key witness for the prosecution, was also on duty the night St. Guillen disappeared.


As owners, Michael, Daniel, and Kekalos could face penalties for not hiring licensed security guards, in addition to SLA violations for hiring convicted felons. If the Falls' liquor license were revoked, Michael and his partners could be barred from holding a liquor license anywhere for two years.

The Dorrian family's attorney, Daniel Gitner, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In any case, the Alcohol Beverage Control Law says only that bars can't "knowingly" hire a felon, and they're not required to run background checks. Jack Dorrian told the New York Post that Littlejohn posed as a former U.S. marshal and showed them a fake badge when he applied. The other bouncer, Tim Catella, was charged in 2001 with two counts of assault and criminal possession of a weapon for beating a man with a bat and a flashlight. In a plea deal, he spent three years on probation.

One well-placed liquor industry source said he doubted that failing to hire licensed staff would prompt the SLA to shut the Falls. "It's like a slap on the wrist," he said.

"It's like they see themselves as above the law," says Soho resident Sean Brady, who lives behind the Falls. Brady says he spent months complaining about the Falls' loud and "egregiously bad" music, which he hears all night long because his loft shares a side wall with the bar.

Brady says Daniel promised repeatedly to hire sound and stereo experts to fix the problem. "They strung me out for months," he charges. "It was a total stonewall."

If the Dorrians are taking shelter behind a stone wall, it's a well-defended one. Their present attorney, Gitner, is the former assistant federal prosecutor for Manhattan who put Lil' Kim behind bars for perjury. Jack Dorrian's youngest daughter, Carol, is married to Anthony Carbonetti, former mayor Rudy Giuliani's chief of staff and current business partner at Giuliani Partners LLC. That helps explain why, in the initial days of the murder investigation, the Dorrian family was being advised by Daniel Connolly, a founding member of the firm, who was a top lawyer for the city during Giuliani's second term.

Jack's youngest son, Chris Dorrian, was a community liaison to the mayor's office during the first Bloomberg administration. And the two-story building where the Falls is located, 218 Lafayette Street, is owned by the family of former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro and her husband, real estate mogul John Zaccaro. They've long been close to the Dorrian clan. Zaccaro's real estate office is on the second floor. Zaccaro and Ferraro's daughter runs a Web-based charity there.


One of the things they're accused of is watering down booze or replacing good booze with cheaper, well, brands. Why would they do that? Profit at a bar with regular booze is simply stupid. A keg of Bud is $44, you get 150 16 ounce pints from each keg, most bars charge $4. A case of bud is $12 for 24 bottles, bottles in a place like the Falls goes for $5.

And with liquor, the profit is even greater. You can buy a well bottle of tequila for $7, each shot is 3 and you get 33 one ounce shots in a bottle. But when you get a $15 bottle of Jack or Jim Beam, the price goes up to $5. So you still make a killer profit. Messing with the drinks seems to be foolish, especially when you have clubs filled with patrons paying top dollar for drinks $5-6. You have to be some kind of dishonest to do that.

These people are connected out of the ass, and in the inevitable and well-deserved civil suit, a whole lot of people are going to be questioned.

Geraldo Rivera asked a really good question on his syndicated show: why aren't the Dorrians being indicted for obstruction of justice. Well, you have your answer. Connections.

posted by Steve @ 7:44:00 AM

7:44:00 AM

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